The Father’s Day tie was once king. And 50 years ago, that likely made sense. Dads were considered the breadwinner and many had office jobs that required some level of professional attire. A tie was a practical gift in that it filled the need for business neckwear while reminding a father of his family as he wiled away his time at the office. So ubiquitous was the gift of a tie that it became a symbol of fathers day. It decorated mugs and ice cream cakes and became an art project for preschoolers.
But the time of the tie should come to an end. Not only because many dads no longer wear them professionally, but because it represents the bare minimum of thought. A tie is a lousy gift. A tie says little about who a father is. A tie is a symbol of labor and joylessness and families can do so much better — like sending flowers for instance.
According to a recent report from the National Retail Foundation, consumer spending for Fathers Day will approach $16 Billion in 2019. That’s a new record and represents a 70 percent increase in Father’s Day spending since 2009. That might simply be because a growing economy and consumer confidence have freed up money to be blown on dear old dad. The growth in spending might also represent how the image and importance of fatherhood in society have grown in the last decade. Both of those things are probably true to some degree. But what is not true is that the increase in spending represents an improvement in the gifts dads are given.
Dads may not be getting ties specifically anymore. But they’re getting the equivalent of ties under the banner of “practical things for men”. Dads get grills because men cook with fire and can’t be trusted with an oven. Dads get power tools because their importance to a household is in fixing all the shit the family breaks. Dads get booze because they need to escape the reality of fatherhood through alcoholic oblivion. Golf clubs, wallets, a new shirt: they are all, spiritually, if not actually, ties.
There’s a famous vintage advertisement from the vacuum company Hoover. It pictures a mother on Christmas morning fawning over a new vacuum. It’s wildly sexist. You’d never suggest a mother get cleaning supplies for Mothers Day. Buy dad a leaf-blower, though, and that’s a-okay.
I get it. These things are practical and men are supposed to be practical. They are not supposed to appreciate beautiful things just for beauty because they are fixers and makers. But even if your dad is a fixer and a maker, that doesn’t mean he wants to be reminded of that on fathers day. Perhaps he doesn’t want a gift that says, “Dear father, stay in your lane.” Maybe he wants a gift without any purpose but to be pleasing to the senses. That’s exactly what a gift of flowers offer.
But aren’t flowers feminine? They are if you discount the insane botanical variety available to most florists. A bouquet is not simply baby’s breath and roses. Flowers come in so many hues and shapes that it would be impossible not to find something a father would appreciate.
Think about your father. Do you know his favorite color? Do you know his favorite place? What grows there? Is he a man you would appreciate the alluring curve of a lily or the wild yellow pop of a sunflower? Flower can reveal what you know about your dad. And if you don’t know much, then perhaps it’s time to ask.
A beautiful flower arrangement can sit in a dad’s house or his office and remind him through its smell and colors that someone actually thought about him as a person with distinct likes, dislikes and thoughts. Someone believes he deserves joy and beauty, rather than just considering him a mindless mass of muscles and bone to push the wheel of the family relentlessly on and on.
And for those who are hung up on the practical Father’s Day gift, just remember: a bouquet usually comes with a vase. How much more practical can you get than that?